I wonder if there's been a more common American dream in the last half-century than rock stardom. When I was 8, high on my first exposure to the Beatles, I created my own one-man band in the living room, playing a guitar and drum simultaneously and writing my own songs. And I've interviewed countless musicians who hit the clubs Friday night after a week repairing dryers or teaching ninth-graders.
It's great fun to imagine yourself as the next Bono or Fiona Apple. Still, most independent artists I know seem content with the knowledge that their musical career will consist of a few local gigs between mortgage payments. Often, when I listen to the free CDs they give me, I hear a note of complacency in their music — not the work of someone expecting to grace the cover of Rolling Stone.
But I doubt there will be any half-heartedness in the debut disc of the P-Cats, a Huntington Beach blues-rock duo that's planning to hit the studio in the coming months under trying circumstances.
The P-Cats are married couple Ed and Trace Paredes, who moved to Surf City in September because the live music scene looked more promising than in their previous home, Palm Desert.
Trace, who sings lead and plays bass, was diagnosed with leukemia a year ago. Before she got the news from her doctor, she and her husband had abandoned their plumbing-construction business and planned to travel the world.
Now, the pair have put Europe on hold and are fulfilling another longtime dream while Trace still has the energy to do it.
"It just drove home the fact with us that you don't know how long you have on this Earth, and we want to make the most of what we have," she said.
Both Paredeses have a long musical background. Ed performed professionally for years before going into construction, while Trace sang in church as a child. Still, with four children to support, they opted for a well-paying business, and their enterprise succeeded until the recession.
The P-Cats aren't making much money. They accept gigs wherever they can, from bars to restaurants to festivals. A few signs have been more encouraging; the duo recently hired a publicist and has had songs played on Internet radio stations.
Both P-Cats sing and write songs, but in the last few months, Trace has increasingly taken the vocal spotlight. When she has a gig in the next few hours, the excitement keeps her alert. Between gigs, she feels tired more than she did in the past and sleeps longer every night.
Still, the Minnesota native, who claims she learned how to sing before she could talk, is devoting herself to two major projects: training for a half-marathon for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and committing her voice to disc.
The album itself has a ways to go. The Paredeses have yet to decide on a title, find a studio or producer, or finish writing the songs. The goal, though, is to put the album out by April — in time for the Real Blues Festival of Orange County, where the P-Cats hope to perform May 15 for the second straight year.
"It's very slow trying to get your name out and start something new," Trace said. "So we're encouraged."
City Editor MICHAEL MILLER can be reached at (714) 966-4617 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.